A longing heart.
An unlikely friendship.
Love...and the bitterest of betrayals.
Who was the man ordered to crucify Christ?
What did he witness that led him to proclaim, “This was surely the Son of God?” Traditionally, we named him, the Centurion Abenadar, and we know almost nothing about him. The novel, Centurion, gives life to Centurion Abenadar.
Abenadar’s life is based on primary source documents about the Roman Legion. Abenadar was close enough to the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate, that Pilate trusted him with the responsibility of the controversial and potentially explosive crucifixion of Christ. At the same time, Abenadar was a man to whom Pilate effortlessly gave the dirty work of the crucifixion, the execution for which Pilate himself would not take responsibility.
Centurion casts Abenadar as the bastard child of the Roman ambassador to the court of Herod the Great. Abenadar’s mother was a Judean girl, the Roman ambassador’s concubine. When the ambassador returned to Rome, he left her pregnant, and in disgrace. The girl returned to her home in Nazareth of Galilee. She named her son, Abenadar, after his father.
Abenadar’s father did not leave him with nothing—he granted his son Roman citizenship. When Abenadar accepted his legacy, he also discovered a place in the Roman Legion stationed in Galilee. Abenadar found in the legion and Roman citizenship a boon and a curse. From his mother’s training in Herod’s court, Abenadar spoke and read Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and from the taint of his father’s legacy and his hard childhood, Abenadar learned to be a cunning fighter. The legion honed these skills. Centurion maps the rise of Abenadar through the ranks and units in Palestine until he is a chief advisor and one of the lead Centurions in Jerusalem. In this capacity, he both advised Pilate and became the vehicle to enact Pilate’s decree.
Abenadar was more than a Centurion; he was also half Judean. His abilities derived from his understanding and communication with the people of Judea. But Abenadar was a man, not a piece of cardboard—all the forces in his life shaped and formed him. He fervently trusted in God—and in the legion. When he accidentally rescued a prostitute, Ruth, in the streets of Jerusalem, he redeemed her—for himself. Ruth was a destitute girl; the death of her parents forced her into her past life. After Abenadar took her in, she lived a semblance of the life she was raised to lead. Life with Ruth changed Abenadar. He returned to the Judean practice of his youth, and through Ruth’s faith, Abenadar’s life became connected to the new prophet—Jesus.
Abenadar experienced the events in the city of Jerusalem from inside the court of Pilate and from the city streets. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, Abenadar became his interpreter and translator. When Pilate gave Jesus over to the Priests, he instructed Abenadar to crucify Jesus.
Through Abenadar’s eyes, Centurion reveals the crucifixion and the resurrection. Abenadar’s greatest fear was that he would lose Ruth, for she believed the message of the prophet he must execute. But Abenadar misjudged Ruth’s love and her faith. And he misjudged how his experience of the Christ would change him.